A definition of Organizational Change Management

Organizational Change Management represents the practice of managing enterprise changes — culture transformations, process changes, mergers & acquisitions, improving services, etc. — focusing on the people side of change to smooth out resistance and promote adoption.

Change is often an unavoidable necessity for small and large companies and organizations, due to internal or external circumstances. The drivers that build the need for change can be economic changes, changes in regulations, shareholders requiring better returns or external stakeholders like special interest groups, etc.

Why apply Change Management in an organizational context

There are 4 main drivers for an organization to adopt Change Management:

  1. Increase probability of project success
  2. Capture people-dependent ROI
  3. Manage employee resistance to change
  4. Build change competency into the organization

Different kinds of change, different Change Management strategy

There are two main categories of organizational change:

  • Radical change is a significant change involving a company’s culture, values and practices. It’s seen as a transformation and it’s usually costly and time-consuming;
  • Incremental change, which refers to adjustments to the existing processes, products, services. Its deployment generally stretches in small steps over a long time.

You can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach. Change Management plans and strategies must be customized to the situation and reflect whether your change is radical or incremental. To do so, you should be able to assess the nature of your change. According to Prosci®, you need to consider three questions before preparing your Change Management strategy and plan:

  • How big is the gap between the future state and the current state?
  • How different is the future state from the current state?
  • How much of a departure from the current state is the future state?

Building an organizational change capability

Once you have defined the entity of change, your organization needs to assess its Change Management maturity.
Prosci® has developed a research-based framework, the Change Management Maturity Model, to measure progress and understand where your organizational change management capability stands within the framework.

This model is structured into Five Capability Areas of Organizational Change Management Competency:

01 Leadership

The senior leader support of the Change Management capability. This includes primary sponsors, sponsor coalition, communications, actions put in practice to establish Change Management, funding and resources.

02 Application

The usage of Change Management methodology and tools throughout the organization. This covers such things as available time, resources and tools for managing change.

03 Competencies

This area includes training and development of the impacted groups that must apply Change Management (employees, supervisors, managers, leaders, practitioners).

04 Standardization

The systems and procedures that institutionalize Change Management and create a common language around the approach.

05 Socialization

This is about building commitment and understanding around Change Management. Having mature levels of Socialization means having gained buy-in and support, reinforcement for sustained Change Management application, cultural values, evaluation of Change Management effectiveness.

The key roles of Organizational Change Management

Apart from the successful adoption of a framework and procedures, Change Management is successful only if adopted by employees who start doing their jobs differently. And the adoption depends on the level of support people receive from a system of roles who play a pivotal role in the transition.

Prosci® has defined five key roles in the Change Management Model, divided into two categories:

  • Employee-facing roles who deliver communications, coaching and support and create interactions: executives and senior managers, managers and supervisors;
  • Enabling roles who create and coordinate the plans executed by the employee-facing group: Change Management resource/team, project team, project support functions

The role of Change Managers in OCM

Prosci® suggests three key action steps for Change Managers.

  1. Making a case for the importance of managing the people side of change. This is addressed to project teams, senior leaders and middle managers of supervisors, to connect Change Management to what matters to them (e.g. meeting financial objectives for senior leaders);
  2. Providing knowledge, training, tools and coaching in order to help the impacted people build their Change Management competency;
  3. Applying Change Management principles to engage the roles involved. This is the ADKAR® Model for individual change within the organization.


Learn more about What is Change Management in our Big Themes

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